What does it mean to be literate?

As Doug Belshaw discusses in his TEDx talk on ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’, we need to move beyond elegant consumption. Students (and teachers) should not only consume information in the digital world, but also engage with it. Belshaw describes this as digital literacies, rather than digital literacy, as it is not a linear concept. We should shift our thinking to a spectrum of literacies, rather than viewing digital literacy as either basic, intermediate, or advanced. There are many different literacies and varying levels. I compare this to the idea of digital immigrants vs. digital residents.

“Digital literacies effect your identity because every time you’re given a new tool, it gives you a different way of impacting upon the world.” – Doug Belshaw

Belshaw states that there are eight elements of digital literacies as shown below. We should look as these literacies as fluid and dynamic and not forget about the remix.

Slide via Doug Belshaw

Slide via Doug Belshaw

How does this shift our view as educators? Rather than looking at students as being digitally literate, we should engage them with digital literacies. Which takes it beyond technological skills, to 21st century learners and thinkers. Amy posted this week about “Seeing the Big Picture.” In her post she talks about technology being an essential tool during the learning process where students use complex skills to find, create, and share their learning.

Ashley brought up many important questions this week in regards to preparing 21st century workers. She also questions herself on if she is creating 21st century learners and if she is preparing her students for a future career. This is something that is important to her as a high school teacher, in that she is preparing students for their next steps in life. She wants to use technology to enhance learning in her classroom and not for the sake of just using it, but she has hit some roadblocks in the past with strict device policies.

Why are we still hitting so many roadblocks? Are they fear based policies? How can we help students along the continuum of digital literacies when it is not authentic? How can we shift this thinking to use technology to not only enhance learning, but also transform learning?

The demands of a 21st century learner are changing the way teachers look at educating. 21st century learners are no longer expected to just be literate in reading and writing, but rather are faced with multiple literacies. Teachers should reflect on the demands of the 21st century learner and a good place to start is the NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment.

How do we meet the demands of the 21st century learner?

I giggles when I saw the Pencil Metaphor on Integrating Technology in schools. I think many of us in this course (and others who are actively thinking about integrating technology) find themselves on various parts of the pencil… even though we don’t want to admit it!

We all want to take the plunge to be a “leader” or a “sharp one,” but on the same level we have some fears. Fears of the unexpected, the troubles, push back, and management. But are we doing our students a disservice by not integrating technology? Technology has impacted education since forever and I am guessing throughout the process, there has been some fear when new and emerging technologies came into the picture. We need to see the challenges and take the plunge aware that some things may not go as planned, but that is part of the process. We are teachers in the 21st century and we need meet the demands of our 21st century learners.

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